3 That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
The word fellowship appears twice in verse 3, alerting us to the fact that this is an important thing in John’s mind. Fellowship is a shared, mutual association with another. The idea is that there is a deep, lasting connection that exists between you and another. Now this isn’t just any kind of connection, rather the fellowship we’re dealing with is the most important, most unique, and most wonderful kind of connection that can possibly be. This is Christian fellowship, and in every way it is life changing.
We see the reality of Christian fellowship in two aspects: The vertical and the horizontal.
The vertical aspect of our fellowship is rooted in knowing and embracing the truth of who God is. John writes “our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” As an eyewitness to Jesus, John was authorized to speak the truth about Jesus. In doing so, he made this point very clear…In order to know God we must understand who God is. Knowing God is not a vaguely spiritual thing, with loose definitions and broad categories. Quite the opposite. God, who is truth, is the giver of truth. He has revealed Himself in order to make Himself known. Knowing Him means understanding the truth of who He is. When we know and embrace the truth of who God is, we have fellowship with Him. We are eternally connected with the Father and the Son.
The horizontal aspect of our fellowship is rooted in the fact that all who belong to God are members of His family. Those who know and embrace the truth of God are called His children. They are beloved sons and daughters of Him. And there is no greater thing in the world than to know God and be part of His household. This is why John wrote his letter in the first place. He wants his readers to “have fellowship with us.” John knows the truth, and he wants to protect his audience from the fellowship-robbing errors that have already claimed many. Instead he wants them to know true joy, the joy that is found in knowing God and being in the family of God’s people. This causes him to state in verse 4 that his goal in writing is “so that our joy may be complete.” The horizontal aspect of Christian fellowship is seen in our desire for others to know the joy-giving truth of God. More than anything, we want others to know God. Because we know that in God is where joy is.
Our quest to proclaim truth is not only about being truthful. That quest is also about seeing God’s people live with the fullness of joy.